Leave Ego at the Door: Zac Goldberg & Craig Merett, 303 Mullenlowe

Zac Goldberg
Art Director 303 Mullenlowe

Craig Merrett
Copywriter 303 Mullenlowe

MullenLowe Group
Todo en uno
London, Reino Unido
See Profile

How did you meet and how long have you worked together?

[Z&C]: We met during AWARD School, the top creative school in Australia. Zac was being tutored at the same agency that Craig worked at – following the end of AWARD School we were thrown together as a team and have remained that way for almost 6 years now.


How would you describe relationship between you two? In what ways has the dynamic changed since you first began working together?

[C.M]: You probably couldn’t get two more different blokes in a room, let alone a creative team. But from day one we’ve always had the most important things in common for a creative team: hunger and work ethic. We pride ourselves on working hard and fast, and over time have really come to complement how the other thinks. The most significant change to our dynamic over time has been the addition of experience.

[Z.G]: Ouch… I don’t think we’re that different. But I do like to describe it as my most successful relationship - something my fiancé hates. I agree that with time and experience we have come to both fully understand each other’s working styles and habits. When we started, we probably both got a little frustrated that the other couldn’t see the genius of their idea and that could put a halt on thinking altogether. Now we only have time for each other’s thoughts and are better equipped to build on them to make them that little bit smarter.


Tell us about the first campaign you’ve worked on as a duo. 

[Z&C]: The first campaign that we brought to life (… going back a few years now) was for Australian Avocados. It was all about an avocado finding it’s ‘perfect match’ – that ingredient that ‘completes it,’ to borrow from Jerry Maguire. The campaign launched on Valentine’s Day and was our way of showing Australians that the much-loved avocado doesn’t just belong with toast. It can have a wonderful marriage with just about anything. So, we created diorama-sized restaurants and cafes where our avocado went on dates with ingredients a little outside the norm. It was a joy to write and produce, and while it was a small campaign it proved incredibly effective. You only create your first campaign once, so we’re still pretty proud of it.


Do you have a favorite campaign you’ve worked on together? What makes it special?

[Z&C]: Our favourite campaign to this point would have to be the ‘It’s Not Pizza. It’s Crust’ campaign we developed for Crust Pizza. In Australia they’re known for their ‘out there’ pizzas; Smokey BBQ Pulled Jackfruit, Pork Sausage with Hot Honey – you get the idea. They’re anything but traditional. To remind Australians of that, we took Crust to birthplace of tradition itself: Naples, Italy. We spent 5 days on the ground hauling pizzas around the streets and having the locals try it. The more they disapproved – and boy, did they disapprove – the more it proved just how different Crust was.

We’re not sure what was more enjoyable: seeing the campaign come to life, sparking an all-in brawl in a town square, or the countless afternoon Aperol Spritz sessions in the Italian sun. Hmmm, perhaps it’s a tie…


What has been the hardest part of working together? How do you resolve creative conflicts? 

[C.M]: He just doesn’t bloody listen! … I’m joking, of course. Look, I don’t think there’s necessarily a ‘hard’ part of working closely with someone else. You just need to be conscious of the other person and work respectfully and we’ve always managed to do that. I might not necessarily agree with an idea that Zac has, but that’s okay. If he feels strongly about something, then I trust him enough to back it, and vice versa. So, we’ll go chips in, present it and see what happens. It’s advertising after all and the most subjective game going around. Both he and I are allowed to be wrong from time to time. Overall, I’d say that there’s one simple guiding principle, a philosophy, if you will, for an effective relationship: don’t be a d***. Mmm, how very wise…

[Z.G]: It’s probably that philosophy which has made Craig too easy to work with. It feels more like we’ve faced adversity together than from each other and I’m pretty lucky for that. And maybe that’s because we have a great awareness that we’re not just a team of two but rather exist within a wider creative department that we can turn to for advice and direction. We might have strong opinions about our ideas but we’ll listen to each other, our peers and our creative directors because they all have a stake in the work, some bigger than our own.


Is there any advice you’d give to young creatives looking for a partner, or a duo just getting their start? 

[Z&C]: The hardest part of advertising is getting in. The second hardest part of advertising is staying there. So, get your foot in the door however you can, and do whatever you can to make yourself indispensable. Go over and above on every single brief – even if it’s just an EDM or some digital display. Just continue to provide value to your agency and to your client, at every step, and you’ll go well. Also, leave any ego you have at the door. Accept that every single person in the agency knows more than you. When you do that, every interaction is an opportunity to learn.


Do you have a dream account that you haven’t had the opportunity to work on?

[C.M]: I’m not too sure you’d be able to find a bigger football ‘nuffie’ than myself (that’s ‘Australian Rules Football,’ for those playing at home) so to create the next great campaign for the AFL would be a career highlight. That’s going to be really hard in Rugby League-obsessed Sydney where we currently are, but it’s certainly on the bucket list. So yeah, that and I’d love to make a Hornbach ad – I think they’re pretty mad. In a very good way. 

[Z.G]: Definitely, I would love to make a Hornbach ad. They are the kind of ads that actually make people like advertising. But I’m also happy to support Craig and his dream of making a footy ad, can’t say I’m much of a sports guy myself so maybe that’s why Craig thinks he and I are so different.


How has the pandemic impacted working with your partner? Do you have any creative tips on how to collaborate when you’re working from home?

[Z&C]: The majority of the time we would find ourselves just jumping on a call and chatting through what we’re thinking. As we’re chatting we’ll also just be collaborating online. It might not be as easy as being in a room and sitting opposite the other person, but we certainly found a way to make it feel like that. Our advice really come down to time management and to look at how you can set aside independent thinking time so that when you come together for a call there is something to work with.